Today the girls went to their first birthday party. Kathleen is five and a half and has never been to a birthday party. I suppose that says something about how easily we make friends in the Sherwood family.
After the girls received their invitation earlier this week, I realized that with the fun of a birthday party comes the responsibility of bringing a gift. Not knowing what to do, I asked the girl's mom who I happen to be visiting teaching partners and next-door neighbors with. "Oh," she replied, "I always keep a closet full of gifts for whenever I need them."
I have a closet full of chocolate chips and lard, but I'm not sure how happy a seven year-old girl would be with lard. Or even chocolate chips - even if it is a three-pound bag. And Ghiradelli.
So I asked where one might buy gifts if their closet didn't have any ones that a seven-year old girl might like. "There are some toy stores around town. But they can be really expensive - like thirty-five manat for something you'd pay fifteen dollars for in the States."
Hm. I'm all for birthday parties, I suppose. But I've never been that excited about the gift part of it. And especially not paying over forty dollars for something of dubious value to the recipient. If my children ever have parties (and I know what you're thinking. Yes, my day is coming and soon), I swear I'll at least make threatening noises about not allowing presents before Brandon overrides me. He seems to do that when it comes to birthdays.
So, I talked to Brandon, and thought about what to do. A few days went by. I brought up making some dress-up thing out of the fabric I have in another closet. Brandon pointed out that my sewing projects always end up being stressful and time-consuming. I admitted he might be right. He suggested going to a toy store near the embassy on his lunch break and looking around. I thought that might be a good idea.
Fast forward to last night, at ten o'clock. I was at home, having finished The Candy Shop War and a handful of chocolates waiting up for him. Wondering if he had disappeared into the night of Baku, I called him to see if the latest event he was pressed into attending was thinking about wrapping up. It wasn't. I asked him if he had stopped by the toy store that day.
"No, I thought that you didn't want me to do that," he told me. "I can go tomorrow if you want, what time is the birthday party?"
I hung up the phone. I thought about skipping the present entirely, or maybe picking one up tomorrow on our way to the embassy Easter party, or delivering it late. Then I went upstairs and looked up former college roommates on Facebook.
Fast forward to 1:30 this afternoon. I looked up my new dream vacation, horse trekking, on the internet. I told Brandon that he could really make me happy by taking me to Spain to ride horses on the beach. He asked about the present. I told him I'd get back to him.
Finally at 2:00, I climbed up to the third floor, looked through my bin of fabrics, thanked my sister for sending me quilting fabric she wasn't going to use, pulled out the sewing machine, the iron, the ironing board, the transformer, and headed down to the dining room table to get to work. But first I picked up Joseph and fed him, broke up a fight between the girls, and stuck Edwin on his potty. And then dumped the contents on another pass.
Then I got down to work.
And at 3:45, the girls headed out the door by themselves with a completed pink, seven year-old-sized apron haphazardly wrapped in brown butcher paper, tied with yarn and topped with their home-made cards. Sophia said that hers was a picture of the birthday party. With everyone in purple.
Then I got to on work lemon bars for tomorrow's party.